Hit The Open Road! Road Trip Tips For An Epic Adventure

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Road trip tips for an epic adventure

Have you been craving the feeling that comes when the city is finally in your rearview mirror and you have hit the open road in search of new experiences and epic adventures? 

Yes? 

Well, you've come to the right place! 

Here is everything you need to know to make sure your next road trip is focused on fun and not on being hangry, locking your keys in your car, or getting stuck listening to crappy music the whole way! 

Before you hit the road

  • Ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your place, bring in your mail, water your plants, etc. while you are away. It will look like someone is still home and prevent break-ins — plus you don't want your plants to die!
  • Even I know that you keep a spare key under the flower pot! Remove all of your spares from their hiding spots while you're away. 
  • Unplug toasters, computers, hairdryers etc. to protect them from power surges.
  • Make sure all of your windows are closed and locked (even the ones on your second floor), and that includes any pet doors. 
  • Back-up all of your electronics and store your backup somewhere safe and dry. 
  • Store all your valuables in a safe place.
  • Leave a map of your route or travel plans with a friend or family member. This way if you get in an accident or find yourself stranded, at least someone will have some idea where you are! 
  • Make sure you know how to change your own tire, check our oil, and add coolant and windshield washer fluid if necessary. 

What to pack in your road trip survival kit

  • Pillow and blanket so you can get comfy.
  • First-aid kit (not to be mixed up with the Emergency Kit below).
  • Snacks that won't make a mess (great snack ideas below!). 
  • A bunch of grocery bags to use as trash bags.
  • Tissues for when you get the sniffles (from a cold or a road trip tune that just really gets you).
  • Toilet paper (trust me).
  • Wet Wipes (again, trust me).
  • Hand sanitizer (roadside bathrooms are not always nice, and are sometimes a tree).
  • Bug spray (for when the bathroom is a tree...)
  • Sunscreen (did you know that you can get a sunburn through your window?!). 
  • Books and magazines to pass the time. 
  • Car chargers for your electronic devices.
  • Cash — both bills and change.
  • Bottled water, or reusable bottles to keep filled with water.
  • Motion sickness medication and a small pail "just in case". 
  • A paper map of your route just in case your phone dies. 
  • Tunes! Whether it's music on your phone or you've pulled out all your fave CDs for the occasion, make sure you've got some playlists ready to go! 

Items for your car's emergency kit

  • Flashlight
  • Batteries 
  • Jumper cables
  • Candles and matches
  • Strong rope
  • Warning light, cones, or road flares
  • Umbrella and rain ponchos
  • Scraper or snowbrush 
  • Small shovel
  • Antifreeze

The best road trip snacks

First of all, you need to make sure that you have somewhere to keep your snacks! Bring a cooler that you can easily restock with ice to keep perishables cool. Also pack a fork, spoon, a sharp knife, a bowl, and a plastic storage container/bag to throw any leftover food into. And, remember not to pack anything smelly or messy. 

Here are some things to stock up on: 

  • Apples or oranges (they last longer and don't get squished as easily as other fruit)
  • String cheese
  • Beef jerky or pepperoni sticks
  • Hummus and pita or sliced vegetables
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Trail mix
  • Popcorn
  • Peanut Butter
  • Granola bars

Check out these resources for more great snack ideas:
The 10 best snacks to pack for a road trip
18 best foods to pack for a road trip
23 road trip snacks to keep morale high and your hands on the wheel

The rules of riding shotgun

If you are the passenger during your road trip, there are some things you need to do to make sure your driver is alert and happy — in other words (unless you are both okay with it) don't fall asleep! 

  • Always carry a spare key with you in your pocket
    If the driver accidentally locks the keys in the car, you won't have to wait for someone to come and unlock your car (or worse, break into it yourself). 
  • Be the DJ
    It's your job to keep the music going. 
  • You're the navigator
    Whether you're using a paper map or digital map, it is your job to make sure you know where you are and give directions with lots of notice. No yelling "left!" at the last minute. 
  • Keep the driver fed, watered, and awake
    Your driver needs to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, so it's your role to hand them water and snacks and make sure they are awake and entertained. 
  • You are the official texter and phone answerer
    Most countries now have distracted driving laws that make it illegal to be on your phone or texting while driving. If the phone rings, or a text needs to be answered, it's your job to play receptionist. 

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Road Trip Tips For An Epic Adventure
Road Trip Tips For An Epic Adventure


Exploring The Slums of Mumbai, India [Video]

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


World traveler and filmmaker Jacob Laukaitis, recently spent five days living deep in the slums of Mumbai and documented the experience in an eye-opening film. (Check out my Q&A with Jacob to learn more about him here.)

"This experience opened my eyes in ways I couldn’t have imagined because I got to spend so much time with the local people, who completely transformed my outlook on what their lives were like," explained Jacob,  "I visited their homes, schools, apartment buildings, sewers, marketplaces, and a lot more places."

Check out the film, and my interview with Jacob about his experience, below. 

What made you want to have this experience? 

The movie Slumdog Millionaire and the book Shantaram.

Also the fact that some years back I spent two days exploring the slums, but didn't have the chance to live inside them and thus left with more questions than answers! 

What surprised you the most? 

The fact that most of the people in the slums were really positive and seemed to be quite happy with their lives. Also the fact that a lot of them had profitable businesses or worked in high-end financial institutions or technology companies and simply lived in the slums to save money on rent.

What was the most memorable moment?

I don't there was one most memorable moment, because I would have dozens of really memorable moments every single day.

Taking a shower in the morning would be memorable, having breakfast would be memorable, walking around the slums and mingling with the people would be memorable — all of it!

What is the one thing you want outsiders to know about life in the slums?

They shouldn't judge or have pre-conceived notions about the people of the slums. They are exactly like the rest of us — they have their own dreams, goals, thoughts, emotions, career paths, friendships, obstacles, and everything in between. Some of them are incredibly smart, others are good with sports, or running a business or raising kids or riding motorbikes — just like the rest of us.

Are you planning on going back?

Yes, absolutely.

Initially, I thought spending five days in Dharavi would be an obstacle, but I liked it so much that I spent two extra days just hanging out even after Praveen had to start working again and couldn't take me around anymore.

Wish I had even more time!

Where is your next adventure going to take you? 

I'm currently traveling full-time, so there are quite a few new adventures in the pipeline — motorbiking around Mongolia, venturing into Northern Africa, doing the Trans-Siberia railway, traveling all around South America, and more.

When it comes to my future videos, I'm currently working on a video about how I motorbiked the second highest motorable pass in the world (Khardung-la in the Ladakh region of India), which was the craziest motorbike trip of my life.

Check out more of Jacob's films here, or follow him on Instagram here

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exploring the slums of mumbai
exploring the slums of mumbai



The Most Epic Road Trips in the World

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


Road trips are one of the best ways to travel because you get to experience everything hands-on — the culture, the people, and the scenery of every place you visit (or pass through). Some of the best parts of a new place, that you would miss if you are rushing from place-to-place on a plane or train. 

That’s why I love this awesome infographic guide to the longest roads (aka most epic road trips) in the world!

It includes travel times, cool stops, and fun info about each route, like The Golden Quadrilateral Highway in India (such an awesome name), which takes you past the Taj Mahal and India’s countryside.

Or, the Pan-American Highway that is longer than the length of the equator! I had no idea this road even existed! There are some seriously dangerous spots on this trip though, like the Summit of Death, a mountain pass in Costa Rica that many travelers don’t make it through. Also the Darien Gap, a stretch of swampland that is basically completely untouched because no one can access it. Travel at your own risk!

Check out the full infographic below!



Longest Roads in the World



10 Quotes By Paulo Coelho To Inspire Your Next Adventure

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


After reading only a few pages of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I knew that I was hooked for life on the writing of this inspiring Brazilian novelist. 

These are only a few of my favorite quotes, from some of his most popular books, that are sure to inspire you to take a risk on that next adventure! 

If you are looking for more, Quote Catalog has put together a list of more than 500 of his quotes. Check it out here.

"And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST

"They live as if they were never going to die, and die as if they had never lived."
—PAULO COELHO, WHAT IS FUNNY ABOUT MAN

"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST

"...braveness is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear."
—PAULO COELHO, THE SPY

"Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST

"All you have to do is pay attention; lessons always arrive when you are ready, and if you can read the signs, you will learn everything you need to know in order to take the next step."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ZAHIR

"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST

"The ship is safest when it is in port, but that is not what ships were built for."
—PAULO COELHO, THE PILGRIMAGE

"It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."
—PAULO COELHO, THE ALCHEMIST




Your Guide To Staying Healthy While Traveling

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Staying healthy while traveling can be a challenge.

You are out of your comfort zone, away from your daily routine, and often nowhere near soap and water right when you need it. 

Plus, you are in contact with A LOT of new people. 

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to end up sitting next to someone who is sniffing, sneezing, or has a hacking cough on a plane. And then there is the recycled air, and the doors, handles, and other surfaces that are used by hundreds of people daily.

Sometimes it seems like catching a bug while traveling is inevitable, and nobody likes to sightsee with a cold! 

Before you start unpacking your bags and cancel your flights, remember that thousands of people travel every day and stay completely healthy. It is possible — I promise! (In fact, here is scientific proof that travel can actually be incredibly good for your health!)

Here are some of my tried and tested tips to make sure you stay healthy on your next trip. 

Take your vitamins

If you don't take vitamins regularly, start taking a multivitamin to boost your immune system a few days before your trip, while on your flight, and once you arrive at your destination.

Make sure you bring some extra with you to take during your trip if you start to feel a little off. 

My favorite immunity boosters are Emergen-C and Airborne (pictured above). They are easy to pack and give you vitamins and minerals all in one. 

Drink lots of water

The best way to flush out toxins? Drinking a ton of water.

It's easy to forget to drink water when you are exploring all day or relaxing in the sunshine, but the quickest way to feel healthy is to stay hydrated. 

I recommend making sure that you always have a water bottle with you by bringing an empty one to fill up once you are through security. 

Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake

I know, I know — there is no way that you are going to give up your morning espresso or your beach vacation pina colada. 

Don't worry, I'm not asking you to. 

Just keep in mind that caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating, and can also lead to headaches, stomach cramps, bloating, swollen ankles, and even contribute to lowering your immune system.

You definitely don't have to avoid them altogether, but I would suggest cutting back on long travel days — especially if you are going to be sitting for awhile — and if you do overindulge make sure to drink a few extra glasses of water to counter any side effects.

Carry hand sanitizer with you

It never fails, you are sitting in a window seat when your airplane snacks arrive and there is no way you are going to crawl over the people beside you and get to the bathroom to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer to the rescue!

This will also come in handy when you are grabbing a snack from a street vendor or using a public washroom that may not have all the comforts of home stocked up. 

Avoid salty food

Salt is dehydrating, which can lead to the dreaded bloating, muscle cramps, and unsightly swollen ankles.

And, of course, most of the snacks that you are served on a plane are packed with salt. To avoid giving into temptation on your long-haul flight, pack some of your own snacks (thing natural nuts, seeds, granola bars, dried fruit, etc.) to munch on. 

It's also smart to have a few healthy nibbles in your bag when you are exploring a new city so that you don't give in to temptation when hunger strikes. 

Bring your own blanket

Get ready for a gross travel fact...

The blankets you are given on long-haul flights are not usually washed between uses.

If you get chilly on planes or are planning on sleeping during your flight, pack your own small blanket in your carry-on bag. If you are traveling light, a large scarf (see above) or sarong will also do the trick.

Make sure to move

Travel means sitting for long periods of time, walking for hours on unfamiliar surfaces, and basically doing physical activities that are outside the norm.

Sitting for a long time on travel days can make you feel sore, achy, and lethargic. The best way to counter that and prevent toxins from building up in your body is to move!  

Make sure to go for a walk — even just a short one — when you arrive at your destination to get everything moving again, try doing some basic stretches before, and (if you are anything like me) and find yourself with swollen ankles, throw your legs up on the wall to let excess fluid drain out. 

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your guide to staying healthy while traveling
 



GUEST POST: The 10 Best Cities To Visit In China

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,


The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China

China is a huge and diverse country, which can be overwhelming to travel through — especially if you have a limited timeframe or budget. There are cities full of skyscrapers and those will transport you back in time, but they all hold a uniqueness that will make you want to linger a little longer. 

To help you plan your trip, I've narrowed down the huge list of cities in China to the ones that you absolutely must see as a first time (or repeat) visitor.

Beijing

The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Great Wall of China — you could spend your entire time in Beijing exploring all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but some of the most interesting parts of this city can be found within its traditional narrow alleys.  

A few of these alleyways are even protected to preserve them from future development, and you are definitely going to want to wander through them to capture a glimpse of what everyday life is like in this city. I recommend the alleyways near Nanluoguziang and Ping’anli to see and experience. 

When it comes to art and culture, the 798 Art Zone, which used to be filled with Mao-era factories, is complete with contemporary art galleries, bookshops, and cafes. It is the perfect destination for a relaxing and people watching at any time of day.  

Xi’an

Beijing may have a lot of cultural attractions, but Xi’an has its fair share as well.

The awe-inspiring Terracotta Army Museum was discovered in 1974 by local farmers, and this archaeological site contains a staggering collection of life-size terracotta sculptures that depict the army of Qin Shi Huang. 

The Hanyangling Mausoleum also displays terracotta figures from two thousand years ago and it is not as crowded as the other museum. 

While in Xi’an, you will also want to visit the Muslim Quarter and take a bike ride along the top of the impressive city wall. 

Shanghai

Shanghai is fast-paced and glamorous but also has an undercurrent of history. 

Walking down the Bund, which is the historic and glitzy walkway on the waterside, is necessary as is visiting the fabulous Yuyuan Gardens. 

There are also a number of hip neighborhoods throughout the city, including Tianzifang, The Cool Docks, and M50, and you will want to wander through a couple of them to check-out what all the hype is about.

Chengdu

The food in Chengdu is amazing and you will love eating your way through this city. 

Start with rice cakes and sesame sauce before diving into the spicy chicken on a stick, but do not forget to try the Sichuan hot pot. This infamous dish is a spicy broth that you can dip a number of different types of food into. You will be able to try any of these delicious dishes at any restaurant, market, or tea house in the city. 

Once you've experienced all the food in Chengdu, you will find that the city is relaxed and low-key. 

One of the more popular places to visit is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and once you've been there it is all about the local parks. The best park is People’s Park, where you can relax by the lake, practice calligraphy on the pavement, or join in on one of the many dance classes that are always on offer. 

Guilin

Nature abounds in Guilin with rolling green hills, beautiful water, deep dark caves, and jagged rocks. 

Most people that visit cannot believe that this area is a city at all due to all the beauty that lies before them. Embrace the tranquility and enjoy the solitude that Guilin has to offer canoeing, kayaking, hiking, cycling, and spending time in nature. 

Guangzhou

This city has long been part of the famous Maritime Silk Road and one of the best times to visit is during the Canton Fair. 

People do arrive in this city for more than business though, and you will love sites like the Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family and the Bright Filial Piety Temple. At nighttime, the city is best experienced by a cruise along the Pearl River. 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong really heats up after the sun goes down, and the best place to see it all is from Victoria Peak where you can capture magnificent panoramic views of the city well above the sprawling high-rises, while also catching a glimpse of the laser light displays and fireworks. 

Kowloon and Lan Kwai Fong are the best places to head for a late-night meal and a night out on the town. 

Sanya

Sanya is not a traditional city in any way, and there are no fast-moving crowds to be found anywhere. Instead, you will find white sand that meets warm waters on the shoreline as well as people who want to spend their time either relaxing or out in the water. 

Jet skiing, surfing, snorkeling, diving, and swimming are the most popular water sports in Sanya, and you will find that there is always something fun and exciting to do. 

Shaxi

Located along the old Tea Horse Trail, what makes this city amazing is that it has been completely restored instead of rebuilt. 

The original walled town and the Old Town Market Square are definite must-see destinations while you are in Shaxi, and then you can head out towards the mountains for some fantastic hiking.     

Tibet

"Technically" a part of China, Tibet is like a totally different world.  

The attractions are breathtaking — three of the best places to visit in Tibet include the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Street. 

*     *     *

If you choose to visit one of these ten cities in China and there are numerous local tours that you can take to explore them in-depth. Just like a Halong Bay tour in Vietnam, any of the tours that you find in China will include great information about the places that you are seeing, as well as give you the opportunity to meet many of the locals that live there. 

Meeting locals is the best way to experience and learn about not only a city but the culture and traditions as well. So, talk to as many locals as you can and listen to what they have to say. You will find that your time in China will be that much better because of it! 

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The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China
The 10 Best Cities to Visit in China

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Meet The Author

Jessica Watson has been writing for websites and blogs for four years now. Currently, she is the editorial manager at Bhaya Cruises who are offering best cruising services in Vietnam



15 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit Lisbon

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,


Portugal's capital city, Lisbon is enchanting with its maze of steep cobblestone streets, stunning tiled buildings, sun-drenched squares, outdoor cafes, and beautiful historic sites. 

If you still need to be convinced that you should add this destination to your travel bucket list,  what makes this city even more appealing is that fact that it is one of the most affordable places to visit in Europe (you can get a coffee and a croissant for 1 Euro!). Plus, the location of the city gives you access both to mountains and water, its restaurants are packed with delicious local delicacies and amazing Portuguese wine, and the people are unbelievably welcoming.

What more could you want?! 

One of the easiest (and most fun) ways to get around the city is on one of the many streetcars that pass through the narrow historic streets that most cars can't (or aren't allowed) to travel down!

The Arco da Rua Augusta sits at one end of the huge main square (Praca do Comercio) facing the water. The square is bordered on two sides by lemon-yellow buildings and covered in cobblestones.

It was the place where anyone arriving to Lisbon by sea used to disembark, and it is always bustling, full of restaurants and cafes, and one of the best spots to watch the sunset. 

A view of the Praca do Comercio from the other side of the Arco da Rua Augusta. You can see straight through to the water beyond. The arch marks the beginning, or end, of the main pedestrian street that is lined with shops and high-end cafes that trickle out into the street. Once the sun begins to set, it is the place to see and be seen whether you are a visitor or a local out for an evening stroll. 

A view into the interior courtyard of the breathtakingly detailed Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. This monastery is a UNESCO world heritage site and was home to monks of the Order of St Jerome for four centuries before the order was dissolved in 1833. 

One of the most photographed historic sites in Portugal, the Torre de Belem (Belem Tower) is also a UNESCO world heritage site and is said to epitomize the Age of Discoveries

If they aren't covered in tiles, the buildings in Lisbon are painted in pastel hues that make the streets feel like they are always basked in a morning glow. 

Laundry hanging in the sunshine off of wrought iron balconies is a common sight throughout the city, as are doors that have a character all their own. 

The 360-degree views from the Castelo de Sao Jorge are impossible to capture in a single photograph. Built in the mid-11th-century, the castle allows you to take in the terracotta rooftops of the entire city — handy if you haven't gotten your bearings yet! 

A quirky attraction, this wrought-iron elevator (Elevador de Santa Justa) was built in 1902 by Gustave Eiffel's apprentice (the creator of the Eiffel Tower in Paris). It is Lisbon's only vertical street lift and you can ride it to the top for fantastic city views!

Freshly baked Portuguese tarts sit in bakery windows — but not for long! 

Restaurants and cafes spill out into the streets giving diners the chance to people watch while they eat and enjoy a little fresh air. 

Lisbon isn't all historic buildings and cobblestones! The Parque das Nacoes, located in the north-eastern part of the city, was built for Expo '98 and is full of modern architecture like the Gare do Oriente train station pictured above. 

The breathtaking Basilica da Estrela is huge and is decorated with complex patterns in pink and black marble. 

There are massive churches all over the city, some in the more ornate gothic-style, and others that are a little more austere like this one. 

Almost every single building facade in Lisbon is covered in tiles, a result of the art of tile-making being brought to the city by the Moors hundreds of years ago. It is a feast for the eyes to wander through the town center and take in all the different patterns and designs! 

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